How To Write Terrible Church Emails in 7 Steps

How To Write Terrible Church Emails in 7 Steps

Posted August 21, 2018 by Joel Schaap

Have you ever wondered what name your contact number is saved as in a friend’s phone?

I have a friend who saved a contact number in his phone as “DO NOT ANSWER”. It wasn’t because my friend is mean, it was set up as a reminder to him. Every time this certain person called, it was to demand something. A favor. A lawn mower. A something.

The hard truth is that many of our church communications feel the same way. And if there was a poster child for bad church communication, it would definitely be church emails.

For me, the way I learned how to write a great email was to understand the seven most painful mistakes that will have members selecting delete faster than the pastor’s kid eating leftover Sunday donuts (or was that just me?).  

1. To start out, begin every email with a confusing subject line.
Nothing says “this is a waste of my time” to a member like a church-wide email that makes their brain run a mental marathon trying to understand the topic.

2. Repeat the confusing subject line in the actual email.
Never entice them with an intriguing pitch, just make them read the same confusing subject line again.

3. Make sure your mass email server (such as MailChimp or Constant Contact) starts everything off with the email address and not the person’s actual name.
For example, instead of “Dear Joel…” change the email opener to “Dear, we desperately need your help…” Remember, its an email, not a real person!

4. When asking for something, do so in a harsh and demanding tone.
Honestly, the best way is to go full Pharisee. Guilting members with heavy burdens such as laborious VBS volunteering in the summer heat is a best practice. Think of the children!

5. When possible, always contort a verse to guilt volunteers into signing up.
A great practice is to first strip out any of the context of the actual verse. Then, include it as a heading to ensure maximum guilt such as “...God loves a cheerful giver…” while asking them to contribute to the building campaign or sponsor a kid of summer camp. 

6. Remember to never, ever say thank you.
It is the Christian duty to suffer for Jesus, right? No pats on the back necessary. You don’t want people to get a big head or anything.

7. Finally, make sure your email is one giant block of text.
It’s difficult to more concisely communicate to the congregation “we aren’t even really trying on this one” without a big block of text with no breaks or bullet points or anything that could possibly be seen as visually interesting. Bonus points for putting it all in Papyrus or Comic Sans!

Of course, all seven of these ideas are things that should be avoided. If you want to ensure your members smile when they see your email pop up in their inbox, make sure you do the exact opposite of these seven steps.

Great emails are possible because God has equipped your church to do great things. Try the opposite of these steps in your next email, and I promise you will get a greater response.

What email lessons have you learned?

Filed under: Communications, Newsletters/Magazines, Email

About the Author

Joel Schaap

Most churches struggle to talk about what they do in a clear and engaging way. Joel loves helping churches and nonprofits tell their stories in ways that are memorable and create a buzz. Contact Joel if you have questions on focusing your message.

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Comments (2)

  • Chris
    8:07 AM
    Tue, Aug 21, 2018

    Mass mail: read your mail a second or a third time before you send it out. How would I react, if I’d recieve this mail?
    Formulate the mail as if you address one person personally.

    Single questions to church’s mail account: I express my joy about the contact (I’m really enjoying it!). I answer as fast as possible. If it is for someone else in church I ask them to answer directly.
    If appropriate I invite the original poster to church on sunday.


  • Kait Rawley
    8:36 AM
    Fri, Aug 24, 2018

    Loved these! You can never say “Thank You” enough in your emails to your church members. We’ve seen AMAZING results from thank you emails sent by churches who use our church email and texting tool ( Great email copy is a skill, something you can improve upon over time, just takes some planning and patience.

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